SPRINGFIELD — The Neighborhood Quality of Life Working Group came up with a fairly lengthy group of suggestions to improve the city and Ward 8 City Councilor Zaida Govan, the leader of the group told Reminder Publishing she believes tax revenue from the city’s cannabis industry as well as the annual payments from MGM Springfield could help fund the initiatives.

The group included Areliz Barbosa, Yveline Bayonne-Hulse Timothy Benoit, Scott Brubach, Kaine Compton, Steven Hooper, Stephen Howard, Mike Kocsmiersky, Stephanie Murchison-Brown, Shayvonne Plummer, Jeremy Saint Laurent and Richard Serrano.

Govan said she understands the items on the list are “kind of challenging,” but she said, “Working together we can do it.”

She said the group focused on speeding and public safety as its main issue. She asserted that people need to have respect not just for the police but for each other. The report noted as suggestions, “Support speed reduction initiatives in partnership with Springfield Police Department, remove illegal dirt bikes, increase funding for traffic patrol unit. Create a traffic cam ordinance to issue tickets to speeders. Create road safety marketing campaign in partnership with SPD. “

Among the other issues identified by the group under improving the city’s housing stock include, “Reduce property taxes for residents, limit number of group homes/shelters in the city, increase accountability for absentee landlords, trash fee elimination and blight removal.”

Under the topic of “Reducing Food Insecurity,” the group suggested, “Apply cannabis and MGM Casino funding toward development of community gardens and provide property tax rebate for owners who use portion of their land toward addressing food insecurity. Provide free 50-gallon water barrels and composting bins to support community gardening efforts.”

The group believed that “Investing in Youth Educational Programming” would include, “Provide free or reduced cost career training for students in trade professions in partnership with local high schools, community colleges and local trade unions. Create youth focused activities to improve socialization skills, address mental health challenges and promote constructive development.”

She acknowledged that in many departments, the city is understaffed and she suggested that high school seniors could be recruited to fill vacancies in departments such as the schools, parks and police.
She also said the city should take advantage of state grants, especially in light of the recent budget cuts proposed by Gov. Maura Healey. Govan questioned how the state has been using ARPA funding.

She called on institutions such as Springfield Technical Community College, the city’s other educational resources as well as non-profit organizations and the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department to join in helping to address quality of life issues.

Govan has asked for a meeting with Mayor Domenic Sarno but said she has not yet heard a response from the mayor as of the time of her interview with Reminder Publishing.

+ posts